The Bank of the Cook Islands this week advanced its efforts to bring innovative sustainable climate finance to our customers and communities, while participating in Green Climate Fund Asia Pacific Conference 2023 in Songdo Korea.  Adeptly led by BCI Chairperson Tatiana Burn, and supported by Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Henry, with knowledge management and  advisory support from Anna Glassie and Vaine Nooana-Arioka.

Drawing admiration from and captivating our BCI delegation is the newly appointed Executive Director, Ms. Mafalda Duarte. Her remarkable qualities of empathy, practicality, and profound understanding of the impact that financial institutions can have through tailored financial mechanisms and structures, resonated deeply within our team.

BCI's primary objective at this conference was to amplify the visibility of our efforts in this arena. Our Chairperson Tatiana Burn reflects that “We have successfully managed to ignite curiosity, admiration and urgency from Ms. Duarte and her team in our efforts, and the conference attendees more broadly.”

As BCI nears the final stages of our accreditation process as a Direct Access Entity to the prestigious GCF, our focus remains on ensuring our preparedness to effectively access and allocate climate finance resources. “Our accreditation will empower BCI to mobilize funds directly to our communities and businesses throughout the Cook Islands, further reinforcing our unwavering commitment to support sustainable development” emphasised CEO Jennifer Henry. This platform solidified new connections with other banks in the Asia Pacific region and global entities with a genuine interest in supporting BCI in our development of sustainable  finance.

The Cook Islands country delegation of which BCI forms a part of, is led by Wayne King the Director of Climate Change Cook Islands (in the Office of the Prime Minister) as the NDA (National Designated Authority) and has been inspirational as he expertly navigates to bring cohesion and complementarity to pacific efforts to own our sustainable development strategy guided by the mandate of our Pacific Leaders 2050 Blue Pacific Continent Strategy.  Our NDA in tandem with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management continues to play a pivotal role in our countries pipeline of projects.  The respectful association and foresight of our NDA, MFEM and BCI, has garnered its own appreciation from conference delegates, something BCI will continue to hold in importance, foster and encourage in our colleagues around the region. 

The GCF APAC discussions also brings momentum to the newly approved GCF 2024-27 Strategic Plan, from which BCIs aspirations resound in two critical objectives, those being, doubling the number of Direct Access Entities, and enabling national and regional financial institutions to access GCF resources, and other green finance, particularly for MSMEs.  The conference shed light on the pivotal role played by financial institutions in bridging the gap between climate finance and its on-the-ground implementation. BCI's active presence and meaningful contributions in these conversations exemplify our dedication to being at the forefront of this movement. We eagerly anticipate the fruitful outcomes that will arise from our collaboration with the GCF and other stakeholders as we jointly strive to achieve our shared climate objectives.